Joyelle McSweeney

Dead Youth, or, The Leaks

Joyelle McSweeney is the author of three books of poetry and three books of prose, most of which also contain plays. Her most recent titles include Percussion Grenade (Fence) and Salamandrine, 8 Gothics (Tarpaulin Sky Press). She is a founder of the international press Action Books and a contributor to the culture site She teaches at the University of Notre Dame. The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, a book of transnational, transgenre poetics essays, was published by the University of Michigan’s Poets on Poetry Series.

Her winning play Dead Youth, or, The Leaks, is available from Litmus Press here.

In this farce set on a hijacked containership on its way to Magnetic Island, Julian Assange attempts to “reboot” a troupe of DEAD YOUTH—teenagers from all over the globe who have died in violent circumstances from sweatshop labor to environmental poisoning to war—but must grapple with two other would-be hijackers: a young Somali pirate and a female Antoine de St-Exupery. Described by its author as a “badly-wired allegory,” Dead Youth, or, The Leaks brings to manic light the veiled violence that makes life in capitalism possible.

Like all of Joyelle McSweeney’s work, Dead Youth refuses to settle into any easy category, delivering a theater experience that’s simultaneously transgressive, classical, visionary, political, and gothic. Although built for the stage, these words still slip, skid, pop, and burrow throughout the page, creating a daisy chain of unexpected associations and indelible effects. —Jeff Jackson

Dead Youth, or, the Leaks, is the shocking gaze upon the most beautiful and obscene gesture that is survival itself. This work takes as truth the statement that violence is such stuff as dreams are made of, that genocide can be converted to a legible surface, that oppression can be exhalation, that knowledge can be devastation, that violence can be humanistic and natural, staggering, immersive. In other words, Dead Youth is a farce, perhaps, but built on the exploitation and death and misery that becomes charisma and complication and sacredness. Heavy, yet easy to consume for its beautiful and profound images, indigestible, yet productive and rapacious in the indigestion that it produces. This is a work like none other. Let the destruction of the world become the rhythm of your life. —Janice Lee

I’ve never read anything by Joyelle McSweeney that wasn’t totally exciting. She’s one of the most interesting people working now in terms of the forms she uses, and she’s extremely deft, and playful, and yet the stuff that’s going on, content-wise, is really super-smart, and has really good politics and stuff. I just find her a thrilling font of new stuff. —Dennis Cooper for Dazed Digital

2013 Short List:

Hannah Silva  Gagged

Angela Rawlings  Ãfall / Trauma